Nowadays the words “PlayStation exclusive” mean quality assurance which is an unachievable feature for many game developers. Sony-exclusive games usually have huge budget and they are being developed by the best game studios. Just take a look at the next line of PS4 games – there is Spider-Man made by Insomniac, The Last of Us: Part 2 by Naughty Dog, Ghost of Tsushima by Sucker Punch, Death Stranding by our beloved genius Kojima and so on. But it wasn’t always like this: in the era of PS2, PS3 and even in the PS4 early days exclusives could turn out to be so lame that you just had to delete the game, destroy the CD and cease playing it altogether. This article is devoted to all these exclusive failures.
Godzilla (2014) — PS3, PS4
The last five years seem like the perfect time to make a great Godzilla game. The graphics at their finest, destruction physics have developed quite well over the years – just take a look at Battlefield. The only thing that has to be really thought trough is gameplay, because walking around the cities and crushing skyscrapers gets boring pretty fast. Still, this gameplay could have worked out in Godzilla that came out on PS3 and PS4 in 2014 – only if it was executed right.
Unfortunately, the game is a failure from start to finish. It looks bad, it sounds bad and it’s incredibly boring to play. Plus, the controls are annoying. Looks like the developers held the Godzilla universe rules in mind because the titular monster walks slowly, turns slowly, charges it’s death ray slowly – there is nothing this beast can do fast enough! And you can’t even use analog sticks to move it around – you are stuck with bumpers only.
If this wasn’t upsetting enough, the gameplay also keeps up with the low quality. In Godzilla you could only fight Kaiju, walk around and destroy buildings. All of those things get boring pretty fast as the controls are pretty wonky, and maps are shining with all shades of grey, which makes even die-hard Godzilla fans feel disappointed at best. The most odd thing about this game is that it looks like something from PS2 era, but it came out in 2014, when everyone forgot that such atrocities even existed. Unbelievable.
Last Rebellion (2010) — PS3
Last Rebellion is a perfect example of how you should NOT make a JRPG. And not just a JRPG but any game at all. The graphics that couldn’t pass as ‘good’ even on PSP, boring repetitive gameplay, almost no animation whatsoever… And not a single thing that defines RPG, like new equipment, new cities, peaceful levels or side quests. Without any of these things it’s not an RPG but rather an action game with a turn-based battle system.
Battle system could have been a lifesaver for Last Rebellion… if it had worked properly. The idea was pretty good: players could pick where to hit their enemy and that would predict said enemy’s behavior and state. Like, a kick in the shins would slow down horned devils and so on. Besides, you had to control two characters and switch between them during the fight (parties? what parties?). The characters apparently shared a single soul as they both had the same health bar, the same mana bar and the same amount of action points. It was crucial to the gameplay as one of the characters, Nine, was a warrior and battled enemies physically, and his companion Aisha confined their souls with magic.
If Aisha didn’t succeed then enemies would rise from the dead and become even more powerful. The only problem with this idea that it might have looked great on paper, but it wasn’t neatly transferred into the gameplay. Switching between characters with different abilities has been slowing down the whole gameplay. The enemies themselves weren’t quite diverse – like, the horned and hornless devils. It all got repetitive pretty quickly.
Last Rebellion could not even charm the players with the soundtrack – it had standard, run-of-the-mill fantasy tunes, and the voice acting was pretty painful to listen to. And – gotta love the irony – the game was developed by a studio named Hit Maker, but with Last Rebellion it was rather a “hit the bottom” situation.
Haze (2008) — PS3
Before Haze got released it was praised as the main Crysis competitor and PlayStation’s very own Halo. Pretty rad, huh? This game could have lived to such expectations – after all, British developers Free Radical Design have made some solid actions like TimeSplitters that included time travelling and Second Sight where the main character had psychic powers. Still, the Haze turned out to be a complete and utter failure.
The game was bland as all hell. The shooting system was boring, the enemies were stupid, the locations had a wide array of greys and yellows and visual effects looked poorly. The stills from the game could be a perfect fit for some depressive memes. Many people still look lost while talking about that game – and, mind you, some of them bought PS3 just to play Haze.
The worst part was the plot. It’s a done to death story about another evil corporation that does all sorts of things including development of a dangerous drug named ‘Nectar’. They use it on soldiers that get sent to other countries to fight as mercenaries. The main character is one of these soldiers that got sent to South America to fight a local rebel group and then joined them pretty soon. What a wild ride.
Lair (2007) — PS3
It’s sad to put Lair on this list, but we have to. Sony made the right decision when it trusted Factor 5 studio to develop a game revolving around flying dragons. Factor 5 is the studio that made Star Wars — Rogue Squadron that had smoothly executed flights and engaging gameplay. It seemed like the right choice at the time.
If you try to describe this game it would sound awesome. It’s a grand and epic story about a war between two kingdoms taken to another level, and it’s filled with violent fights, the sounds of clinging swords and screams of dying warriors all around, a variety of dragons and a great soundtrack. All in all, it looks like a dream game that is mandatory to play for anyone who just bought their new PS3.
This glorious story was undermined by the terrible controls. The key mechanics of Lair is dragon flights – there’s almost nothing else there. Unfortunately, the dragons required gamepad motion sensors to control them. The analog sticks didn’t do much and the buttons only allowed player to gain speed and do other minor tasks. The dragon’s movements were controlled only by gamepad’s gyroscope: you had to tilt the gamepad in the right direction to sent the dragon that way. The problem was that game didn’t work with gamepad’s motion sensors vey well. As a result, the dragon was flying anywhere but the right direction and was deemed pretty uncontrollable.
The long and short of it – it was hard to fly on a dragon in a game about flying dragons. Thus, Lair was doomed to fail.
Mortal Kombat Special Forces (2000) — PS
After the three classic Mortal Kombat games got released and before the cult series was rebooted in 2011, the MK games were all over the place. Some of them are better off forgotten, and the worst of them all is Mortal Kombat: Special Forces. It was a prequel of the first Mortal Kombat that was supposed to shed some light on how Jax met Kano and his Black Dragon gang.
You got it, right? The developers decided to seriously expand the series’ lore, but they must’ve thought that Mortal Kombat Mythologies: Sub-Zero hadn’t told enough. That’s why Midway Games started to work on Special Forces and failed every task possible. The story didn’t go as planned – it seemed like the developers forgot altogether about Jax and Kano’s first meeting. They even gave the main character his iron arms, even though he acquires them only in the third episode. They didn’t even manage to transfer the distinctive gameplay because Special Forces is a 3D-action game with an aerial view. Jax does his best to recreate his infamous punches and combos but it looks awful.
The graphics didn’t do the game justice either. Even for 2000 it was done badly – clumsy cheap-looking models, wonky controls, crappy animation – nothing seemed to be right. The series recovered a bit after this mess but it definitely wasn’t a successful comeback. Things went on pretty bad until the reboot in 2011.
Bravo Team (2018) — PS4
If you think Electronic Arts destroys talented studios by forcing them to create boring grinding farms instead of games with interesting lore, you should check out Sony’s mischiefs. Just look at what it did to Supermassive Games! They’ve made an excellent teen horror Until Dawn, then – an Until Dawn DLC “Rush of Blood” for PS VR, which was kinda meh, then they’ve managed to create a mediocre Hidden Agenda for PlayLink, and then came back to their weird VR experiments like The Inpatient and Bravo Team.
Almost every single game after Until Dawn is quite playable, with one exception – Bravo Team. It’s a pretty bad action game, and it could probably blame VR for it’s problems if the problems were actually caused by VR. But VR is not the problem – the execution is.
Bravo Team is not a pioneer in VR first-person shooters – it was preceded by DOOM VFR and Farpoint that showed how to take advantage of a VR genre. It looks like Supermassive Games didn’t even notice these games and went their own path – and it all went downhill from here. Bravo Team could be barely called an action as you have to mostly hide in cover and you can stand and shoot or sit and shoot. When you are moving on to the other cover, the camera stays [!] in the previous place and shows your character crawling awkwardly to another wall. Then camera moves back to first view, and it happens so fast that you might get disoriented and lose the sense of your surroundings, let alone finding the position of your enemies.
The shooting system is not a nice one either because the game does a bad job connecting with the motion sensors. How come? Besides, there is a ton of bugs that could have been fixed in beta – teammates can walk straight through walls and enemies ignore you even if you are in the point blank range. Sony, come on, maybe it’s time for Until Dawn 2, don’t you think?
Magus (2014) — PS3
Some games shouldn’t have even been created. Magus is one of those games. It’s hard to believe that someone managed to release such a bad game in 2014.
Technically, Magus is an RPG, and it totally sucks. The plot revolves around adventures of eponymous Magus and his friend Kinna in the fantasy world. It seems like their main point is to persuade everyone that main character is a cool guy that deserves to rule these lands. Who? What? Why? What the heck? Don’t get your hopes up – nothing is explained there. It’s hilarious to watch dialogues in Magus as the fantasy NPCs don’t give a damn about the main hero, and he just gets mad and threatens them – like, five times in a single dialogue. Jeez.
It’s even funnier trying to play the actual game. Magus himself casts spells that look like he’s constantly shooting green energy out of his arms. Therefore he’s practically useless in melee fights. His friend Kinna is a tank and she distracts all the indistinguishable enemies. While Kinna distracts the enemies, Magus gets a chance to spew out his green energy. If Kinna is down, the enemies surround Magus and he has to run in circles to get away from them. It’s the long and short of the whole gameplay. Plus, it looks like a PS2 game. What a disappointment.
Twisted Metal III (1998) — PS
How can you mess up a game about derby with tons of explosions, cars with machine guns and Rob Zombie in soundtrack? Well, look no further – it’s Twisted Metal 3. The game series had to undergo a change in development team and therefore lost all of it’s charm and became much worse that it used to be.
The problem here is the game’s physics engine. It was odd even for an arcade racing game where car physics are not that important. Still, in Twisted Metal 3 it was pretty hard to control cars, which was exacerbated by low graphics and terrible location design – the maps were practically copying the levels from previous games without offering anything new.
This third game was just the beginning of the series’ downfall which was stopped only by reboot in 2012.
Ridge Racer (2011) — PS Vita
The final version of Ridge Racer for PS Vita had three racing tracks and five cars. That’s all you have to know about this game, which was sold for 30 dollars, by the way.
Okay, there is more: this part of Ridge Racer went through all levels of hell even during development. When the game was finally released, thousands of players were furious about the amount of content in it, but developer reassured them that soon downloadable content will be released. There would be more cars and tracks, but they will only be available through DLC – can you imagine that?
The gameplay in Ridge Racer was pretty okay: developers have managed to keep the distinct features like dramatic drifts and ability to increase the speed by following the enemy. Among the downsides was also AI that freaked out out all the time, and, obviously, the three tracks available. There was no reason to unlock new cars and upgrade them because you were stuck with the same three levels no matter what.
Now you can buy a full version of Ridge Racer with all the DLC packs, and the game description in PS Store has been updated. Developers stated that now there are EIGHT more cars and SIX more tracks in the game. And 4 more soundtracks just so you would get totally overwhelmed with the amount of content.
Kung Fu Rider (2010) — PS3
What is wrong with Kung Fu Rider? Well, beside the fact that the plot consist of a white collar detective with a weird hairstyle running away from mafia with his girlfriend by driving on an office chair through the streets… Hmm, well, I don’t know. The answer is probably “everything”.
Let’s start with the fact that you have to use PS Move to control the game. In order to speed up you have to shake the gamepad up and down. If you want to jump, you just have to jerk the gamepad straight up. You can see how it can go wrong: characters were constantly jumping up and down instead of speeding up and vice versa. There were various bonuses scattered around the track, but it was dangerous to collect them as you would inevitably crash into something – and the level would restart. The most annoying thing is when a tram was hitting you from behind – you literally could not see it coming!
Obviously, the developers weren’t trying to create something serious, and we have to admit – there were some funny moments. Like, the animated portraits of the characters in top right corner of the screen were hilarious. Everything else – not so much. It was more annoying than entertaining, to be honest, especially the repetitive gameplay that doesn’t change a bit during the whole game. Combined with weird controls it was just impossible to play.